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Archives for Well Being

Dieting

Research-Backed Resolutions

The more I read and think about  New Year's Resolutions, the less I think they accomplish a dingdang thing. I've made a lot of resolutions that have led me absolutely nowhere. Mostly, they make me feel bad because I tend not to follow-up. Oh sure, I'll get back on my eating/exercise program as soon as the holiday minefield of homemade pound cake and mint M&Ms is behind us, but that's more about returning to...
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Brain Function

Daydreaming As Our Default Mode (And Why That’s Not Great)

Last night, my yoga and meditation teacher mentioned her surprise at how  much easier meditation gets over time.

She no longer has to work nearly as hard as she once did, she said, to reach a meditative state. And, she said, it's much easier than it once was to keep intrusive thoughts and daydreams at bay while she meditated. “I don’t know why,” she concluded, with some wonder in her voice.

Coincidentally, I’d just spent much...
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General

Making A Reality Checklist

Unearned praise may be just as much of a bummer as undeserved criticism.

New research finds that over-praising ourselves is as counterproductive as beating ourselves up. Or, as the title of the article puts it, "Both Self-Effacement and Self-Enhancement Can Lead to Dejection."

The aha moment for me in this article is Study 4, when participants did a task (unscrambling anagrams) and, without knowing their actual score, randomly received either...
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General

Nostalgia As A Drug

Woody Allen’s most recent film, Midnight in Paris is a perfect story.

Not the romance stuff so much. All that’s OK. As always, the Woody Allen character (played by Owen Wilson) is found irresistible by young and beautiful women. Ho hum. Right. It's his movie, he can do whatever he wants with that.

But the way Allen handled the premise of longing for the past dazzled me. Yes, of course. That’s exactly how...
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General

What If Not Being Picked For The Team Is Good For You?

Here’s comforting news: When crappy things happen to us, it appears there’s a something deep inside us—so deep it’s beneath our consciousness—that says, “Cheer up, little soldier. Things aren’t that bad.”

An article in the journal Emotion details nine experiments conducted by a team of six researchers, including a couple who have caught my attention before: Roy Baumeister, who taught me how to put down a torch, and Jean Twenge, who writes...
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Body Image

Love Your Fat to Lose It


The first step to regaining a healthy weight is loving your body as it is.

Research says so: Researchers in Portugal compared a control group of women trying to lose weight with diet and exercise advice only, with a group who also received an intervention focused on body image.

The scientists took various psychological and physical measurements for a baseline, and again a...
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Books

Self-Help Books: Take What You Want, Pass It Along

Here it comes, the avalanche of brain-training books, following the leaps and bounds made in research in recent decades. As we learn about the brain, the self-help industry is following the neurons to a happier, healthier you. Also with a better memory.

A book called Train Your Brain to Get Happy crossed my path recently, so I picked it up. (Actually, I got a press release and requested a review copy from the...
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Consumer Behavior

Sometimes You Just Need a Pressure Release

It’s been a very long week, and not in a good way. Righteous anger is a bitch.  Trying to fit another thought into my overheated brain has been difficult and I've struggled to settle on something to write about. I didn’t want to write more about institutionalized sexism in the media. (Actually I did, but y'all have probably had enough.)

Casting around for something to get traction in my brain, I thought about ancillary...
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Cognition

When You Can’t Stop Thinking About It

A friend was recently robbed at gunpoint on a dark street. She’s a little bruised from being pushed around, but she's generally OK. However, she says, she can’t stop thinking about it and wishes she could.

Not unusual. In the psychological literature, that’s called repetitive thought, and it can be a bad thing except when it’s a good thing.

As you probably already know, trying to suppress a thought is pointless—that old “don’t think about a...
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General

Autonomy Makes Us Happy, And That’s No Joke

Autonomy is good for us.

The researchers in this recent study on the connection between autonomy vs. money in individuals’ well being were interested in the equation on a large scale. They want to figure out whether nations can improve the general sense of well being among their citizens by trying to increase wealth, or by trying to provide a way for people to have greater control over their lives. What they found was...
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